Plot Sketch: Kaelyn is busy navigating the ins and outs of moving back and forth between big-city minded Toronto and the small-town minded island shePlot Sketch: Kaelyn is busy navigating the ins and outs of moving back and forth between big-city minded Toronto and the small-town minded island she grew up on. She's just seen her ex-best friend leave for school on the ferry and decides to keep a journal as if she were telling him how she feels about what's going on until she can tell him face to face when he comes back for Thanksgiving. But then, the journal becomes a chronicle of an outbreak, the early symptoms, early measures of prevention by the government, (Kaelyn's father is a microbiologist and has inside information sometimes) and the progression of the disease. We see the World Health Organization (WHO) through her eyes. We see the best of humanity and the worst of humanity as she tells her old friend what's going on in their community. We see life and we see death, all through the pen of a sixteen-year-old girl.
Verdict: If you're looking for dystopia, this is not your book. This is not a book about a dysfunctional messed up government in the future with some whacked out crazy totalitarian alien war mutant gladators. It's set now, in the present, in rural Canada. If you're looking for doomsday, suspense, with a little mystery and romance though, this is a sure bet. This is not a paranormal romance. This is not a paranormal anything. It's contemporary. And it's scary.
The epistolary format of this novel allows the reader to connect with the narrator in a more powerful way than traditional prose would. You are able to see the world in a way an outsider could not. I read the entire book in one sitting, even though I wanted to put it down and sleep, I couldn't. And I had a fever. Not only was it powerful, it was haunting, and I'm still thinking about what decisions I would have made had I been in Kaelyn's shoes even today. The book is both technically sound and emotionally engaging. There were only a few plot progression points that I found questionable, but they were easily rationalized and explained away.
The ending will feel rushed if you think that the book is a stand alone. But if you know this is a series going in, you'll be left at the end with a whole passel of questions, and they'll just keep coming.
There was a point in the book where I became so numb to all of the death that my brain kicked in and told me I should be more upset about this one particular death. It was important. It had more impact, power, than the rest of the deaths to that point. Or at least it should have. But, it was like I was linked with Kaelyn and couldn't bring myself to feel any more than she did, which I found to be quite brilliant, even though it left me disappointed in my own humanity. For an author to be able to evoke an intellectual response to my lack of emotional response sort of blew my mind. Good job, Megan Crewe. Good. Job.
We read this for book group and had a blessedly awesome discussion from it. I would highly recommend this for book groups. For parents: I counted 2 instances of the f word. Another woman in our book group counted 5. I thought that they were used in good places for emphasis and were true to the characters who used them, not just tossed in for effect. I was not offended by their presence, but you should know that they're there. Also, I applaud the author for having a gay character whose sexual preference is not a major source of conflict in the story. *claps hands* Oh, and if you are sick, be forewarned, this book might frighten you a little bit more than if you are healthy. And if you're healthy, you still might want some hand sanitizer close by.
This book will be enjoyed by people who like Stephen King's The Stand, Survivors (the British tv series), and pretty much anyone who likes to think about the zombie apocalypse....more
Plot Sketch: Derek the Ghost, author of Scary School, navigates us through the halls of the only school in the whole entire world where kid monsters aPlot Sketch: Derek the Ghost, author of Scary School, navigates us through the halls of the only school in the whole entire world where kid monsters and kid humans learn side by side from Monster teachers. There's a dragon for a teacher, a zombie student, and the principal is a scary chick with hands like one of the Fantastic Four. You spend an entire school year getting to know students and teachers and watching them prep for the 561st annual Ghoul Games where every student competes with students from other schools that educate monsters (none of those admit humans though). Scary School gets to host the Ghoul Games this year, but there's a catch... the winners of all of the games get to eat the losers, and they win a golden Elephant and a trip to meet the Monster King in Albania!
Verdict: This is reluctant reader paradise. Each chapter reads like a short story which makes it perfect for parent/child reading together, and makes it less intimidating for readers starting out on their own. But not only is the format fantastic, the prose is hilarious and imaginative and made me laugh out loud uncontrollably in many inappropriate places including a rather stuffy doctor's waiting room where everyone stared at me. But I kept reading despite the judgement because the characters were amazing and the concept is completely fun.
This volume is mostly an introductory volume so that you can meet characters like Charles Nukid (who really is the new kid, and doesn't understand why everyone calls him by his last name), the three Rachels: Raychel, Raechel, and Frank (pronounced Rachel). It's a road map for the rest of the stories, introducing you to this world and what it has in store with a little bit of plot along the way. Don't get me wrong, it's not completely lacking plot. It's just very character heavy. Which I'm confident is going to work out well for this series, and makes this a very good starting place for the reluctant reader because it's easy to piece the story together over multiple sittings. You don't get lost in the intricacies of the plot.
This series is also unique in that it will equally appeal to boys and girls. You could sit your small family down and read it together and everyone would pay attention. Especially since there are pictures. I'm not gonna lie... the pictures are my favorite part because they are timely and only add to the story. I particularly liked it when the zombie kid's tongue fell out and he dusts it off and puts it back in his mouth and there's a small drawing of a tongue jutting into the paragraph.
Perhaps the real best part though is the web integration and the secret chapter. At the end of the book you're instructed to go to scaryschool.com for the secret chapter. But, when you get to scaryschool.com, you have to pass a quiz to get to the chapter. A couple of the questions I thought were tricksy enough to trip up a kid, (the dodo one and the uniform one if anyone is keeping track), but they didn't fool me. Or is that just me thinking I'm smarter than your average kid? Maybe I should get knocked down a few notches.
I'm not usually a fan of Middle Grade fic, but I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for Scary School #2: Monsters on the March which is due out at the end of June 2012. ...more
Plot Sketch: Karou is an art student. She lives alone in a flat in Prague, and has lived in many different cities, speaking many different languages oPlot Sketch: Karou is an art student. She lives alone in a flat in Prague, and has lived in many different cities, speaking many different languages over her short seventeen-year life. The story starts after she's broken up with Kazimir, a few years older than Karou, he is beautiful, but practically soulless and he scares her all the time. Karou works for Brimstone, the only father she's only known, in tooth trade. Brimstone is not a man, but a chimaera, as are his shop employees, Issa (half-snake), Kazir, and Kishmish. These are the only family she has ever known. She grew up in the shop and when she was old enough, she got her own flat, but returned daily to the shop to run errands (or pick up teeth) for Brimstone. As far as she can remember, she's always had the eye tattoos on her hands - Issa has them too. Not for lack of asking, she has never discovered what the teeth were for, or who her parents were or where she came from or why she can't touch the wishbone around Brimstone's neck. She's learned the art of tooth trade, listening to their hums, and how to sort them. One day, Brimstone sends her to Izil, a tooth trader in Marrakesh, a week earlier than usual. Izil has not much for Karou to take back to Brimstone, but she does manage to catch the eye of a seraph. She does battle with him, is gravely wounded, but makes it back through the door with a handprint blazoned on it that was not there when she exited to the shop in Elsewhere before the seraph can finish her off. This is the story of what happens between the seraph and Karou.
Verdict: Stunningly beautiful writing. I was in awe of the way Taylor crafted her sentences and the way she wove her story together. Okay, let's be real. I wasn't in awe, I was hard core jealous! Told in third person omniscient, a rare point of view for YA, the characters are amazing, unique, interesting, and you get into a lot of their heads, not just the main character Karou's.
This was one of those books where I couldn't stop reading, and when I had to stop reading, I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and the story and wondering what would happen next. With twenty pages to go, sleep forced me to put it down, but the story still haunted me in my dreams. Partly because the only place I'd ever want to visit in Europe is Prague, and the descriptions and romance of that city grabbed me into the story at the very beginning. Partly because the other main spot, Marrakesh, is a place I've also always wanted to visit. She's skilled at setting the book. While the descriptions were thorough and beautiful, they also didn't make me scream with agony over their length.
I connected with many of the characters and having read this in November, I still remember them well at the end of January. I care what happens to them and want to know what happens next. Yeti of Smoke and Bone (the next in the series) can NOT come fast enough. But even though it's out this fall, I can't imagine having to reread any part of Daughter because it's so unique and so different from anything else that I've ever laid eyes on.
The timeline of the book is somewhat distracting. There are flips forward and backward between exposition and what's happening now. But after finishing the book, I can't imagine a more powerful way to tell the story. She holds on to important tidbits and releases them just as you need them to complete part of the puzzle, which lends itself to a better understanding of the motivations behind the choices the characters have made. It's like aha! moment after aha! moment. And for the record, I think this is the first time Monster and I have ever agreed on the quality of a book since Harry Potter.
For parents, the content is not completely clean, but the language is for the most part. There are some scenes with nudes in drawing class at the beginning, but nothing overtly graphic is described. Karou has lost her virginity, but it's not described in a scene, just a regret. I'd let sixteen and up read it for sure... but that's me. You figure out what's appropriate for your teen.
I was surprised to see all of the negative reviews of this title. This is not meant to be a book for women who are already married and have started faI was surprised to see all of the negative reviews of this title. This is not meant to be a book for women who are already married and have started families. Parts of it apply to every woman, but most of it is geared toward the single woman of any age.
With its humorous introduction and practical advice throughout, this would make a fantastic high school or college graduation present for a favorite graduate you have high hopes for. Conversely, this would make a terrible wedding present.
Topics of modesty, word choice, hard work, people you surround yourself with, courting, style, dieting, modesty, abstinence, and class are covered and covered well. I found a few places where I can improve. Though since I don't wear make-up at all, I skipped the makeup chapter. But it is there. Christy selected quotes from many women I consider classy and interspersed them throughout the book in applicable places, showing that the points she was making were not solely her opinion.
I think that the conversational style with which this book is written is refreshing and the only way you could write a book like this and not turn-off many demographics of readers. I didn't feel preached at, I felt reinforced and supported for my decisions. ...more
Plot Sketch: See there's this chick named Emerson. She lives with her brother, Thomas, and his wife, Dru, because her parents died four years ago in aPlot Sketch: See there's this chick named Emerson. She lives with her brother, Thomas, and his wife, Dru, because her parents died four years ago in a freak accident. Oh, and she sees dead people. She started seeing them a couple of months before her parents died, and they only went a way when she was put in the looney bin and medicated beyond recognition. Her brother took her out of the looney bin, and she weaned herself off her meds, but didn't tell him. Now, she can sees dead people, and jazz trios, again. And she hates it, but not as much as she hates not being able to feel anything. When she touches the spectres, they go away kind of like a pop. And her brother knows about it, sent her off to boarding school for a while, until she had an episode and her scholarship disappeared, and he's been trying all the while to find someone to help her. Psychic. Healer. Witch. Someone. Anyone. And then he meets Michael from Hourglass. And he hires him to help Emerson. Oh and did I mention he's drop dead gorgeous? And when they touch, lightbulbs literally break. But being together is against Hourglass's rules and Thomas's. And this is the story of how they navigate those rules, an evil genius, and time itself.
Verdict: Chances are you've seen something positive about this book. It deserves whatever praise it's been given. It's been over a year since a book kept me up all night, and this one did the trick, me starting at pate 90 at 1am and finishing slightly after 5am (I'm a night owl, okay, but I was planning on reading until around 2). I loved the characters, especially how the main character was this strong, kick-arse girl but she was still emotionally vulnerable. I loved how the teens were smart, but not wise. They made mistakes like teenagers do, not yet learning to separate their emotions and their actions. I loved that I was so involved with the plot that not only could I not put down the book with sixty pages left, I couldn't put down the book with three hundred pages left! I loved that this book let me geek out a little about all of the time travel and time theories. I loved that I was so connected with the characters that I actually swore at the end of chapter forty-four, and immediately had to keep reading even though my heart was broken. And the thing I think I loved most of all was that there was resolution at the end. This book might be the first in the series, but it doesn't feel that way. Hourglass was a complete story. Oh how I can't wait for more, and I hope you'll give it a chance!
Plot Sketch: Natasha needs to escape the fall out from "The Hot Tub Incident," and Emily needs to experience America and get away after breaking up wiPlot Sketch: Natasha needs to escape the fall out from "The Hot Tub Incident," and Emily needs to experience America and get away after breaking up with jerkwad Sebastian, so these two enter a college exchange program. Tasha gets sent to Emily's PoliSci curriculum in Oxfrod and Emily to Tasha's Film studies at UCSB. The plot follows a path of self-discovery for both of the girls, with half of the book remarking on the differences in culture between California and Britain, and of course there are cute boys, and the self-discovery takes place in a feminist context, but does not force feminism by any means.
Verdict: Here's the deal. I already read and reviewed Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. Abby wrote Sophomore Switch first. You can tell. The writing in BBaaSPoHB is superior to that in SS. The fault I find with Sophomore Switch is that I felt like all of the characters filled archetypal roles and were not true characters. Convenience seemed to dictate plot rather than character development, and that felt fake and very predictable. BUT, I liked the tone of the book, which I'll add is not a feminist tone, but rather one of girl power, which you guys know I'm totally pro-. (If you want to discuss feminism vs. girl power, just ask in the comments) I loved that the girls were put into contexts where they were allowed to grow and discover things outside of their paradigm and that they were open-minded enough in the end to let their experiences have a true effect in their lives. Would I recommend this book to an older teen? Absolutely. To an adult? Maybe not. I think that adults will look at this and see the unreality in the characters and their decisions more than the message those decisions portray because we have a more realistic view on the world and have *usually* had vastly more experience and know who we are already. I think that this book could benefit teens who are struggling to find out who they are, with a couple of parental advisories: Emily decides that she's just going to become a lip whore to loosen up her uptightness with boys, and both me and my book group thought that form of self-discovery was both dangerous and impractical and didn't think that it should be encouraged in a positive light. We felt it was forced with Emily and completely out of character for her, which was sort of the point of the book, but was also *insert your synonym for unrealistic here*. Also, these are sophomores in college, not high school, so the hot tub incident does involve nudity, but is not explicitly written.
Location: London and Santa Barbara
Favorite Character: This was tough. I didn't really like either of the main characters. But I did like Will. UNTIL he pulled a 180. So, I think my favorite character was Ryan. He seemed to be the most consistent of the bunch.
Would Change: The first half of the book needed more plot/action and less dissection of the differences between America and the UK.
Favorite Line: "Totes." Thanks Abby, I started talking like Tasha for like a week straight. :op
Good for Monster? This is YA chick lit I'm afraid. Not gonna be a good fit for my Monster, or yours more than likely.
People Who Will Like This: Britney Spears, Bella Swan, people who own a pair of pink leopard pajamas, college advisors
People Who Won't Like This: Elmer Fudd, the uber-outdoorsy girl, ultra-feminists, most boys
Chapters: They're not numbered, and I ALWAYS count wrong. The length was good. And the narrator switched chapter to chapter from Tasha to Emily, so that was an interesting and probably difficult thing. I liked the sections where the two characters interacted, a lot....more
Plot Sketch: Isobel Lanley has it all. She's got the BMOC football-player boyrfriend, Brad. She's the top flyer on the Trenton cheerleading team thatPlot Sketch: Isobel Lanley has it all. She's got the BMOC football-player boyrfriend, Brad. She's the top flyer on the Trenton cheerleading team that is in serious contention for Nationals. All she has to do is pass her English class. Mr. Swanson always gives Juniors a project. In fact, it's infamous. But this year, he's decided to do things a little differently... he's assigning partners instead of letting his students choose. They've got a ten-page paper to write and an oral presentation to give on an author/poet from their book. Isobel eagerly awaits her name to be called, only when it is, she's speechless. She is paired with Varen Nethers, that goth guy who sits in the back corner. She quickly informs him that she's not doing all of the work. He informs her of the same back. They agree to meet and work on a project. Isobel has a jealous boyfriend. Varen has a jealous pseudo-girlfriend. What begins as a partnership blossoms into a friendship, and possibly more as they navigate the murky realities of their chosen poet's life, Edgar Allan Poe, and find themselves standing up for things, and people, they would never have dreamed of standing up for before.
Verdict: Page Turner. Suspenseful. Horrific. Freaktastic. NEVERMORE will take you on a journey unlike you've ever experienced in a YA novel before. It's an emotional roller coaster taking you from happy to anticipatory, frightened to encouraged, sad to hopeful. Creagh takes her time developing the plot, giving the characters good motives for their actions and allowing you to feel like these are people whose actions and psychology you can comprehend. She does a great job of describing a brand-new, scary, chilling dimension, so much so that I actually saw a Noc in a nightmare shortly after finishing this novel. She adeptly weaves well-researched facts into edgy, dark fiction that made me look at some of Poe's darkest work from new perspectives. This book is a YA horror, but don't let that YA part throw you because it takes YA horror to a whole new level of eerie, and it has elements of romance, mystery, suspense, and action, so you're sure to find at least one element to love. It's paced wonderfully, especially for a YA, and for a memeber of a series, it's quite long. The ARC is just under 550 pages. This is the first book in a planned trilogy. I will purchase a copy of this for my shelf, and would recommend that you do too.
Location: I think they live in a town called Trenton. I think Trenton is in Kentucky.
Main Character: Isobel Lanley. I admire her. I think she has a strong character, and has a talent to love easily, which is admirable.
Favorite Character: Varen Nethers. I never thought I'd read about a goth boy that'd make me swoon. Bravo, Kelly for writing a character so deep and complex and unique as Varen. Though he might make the list of guys I wouldn't let my daughter date, I think I could argue him a place on the guys I'd want my daughter to date list as well.
Would Change: There were a few passages in the dreamworld sequences that confused me a little. And at times I felt a little lost, not completely lost, but there were about four times in that sequence (which probably exists over 250 pages) that I had to backup and reread 3-4 paragraphs to figure out what was going on. If it weren't for those instances, I would have NO complaints about the book.
Favorite Line: "He stared forward, unblinking, as a knife of blue lightning slashed the sky. 'No,' he said." p. 543, ARC This line made me go , "Oh I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope!"
Good for Monster? He could get into it. Seriously. He could. But your guy who likes Poe? He'll adore it.
People Who Will Like This: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, lovers of mystery, The Poe Toaster, fans of the dark, people who like cats, people who love All Hallow's Eve
People Who Won't Like This: Torrance Shipman, little kids, those who scare easily, annoying idiotic neighbors
Chapters: 50. They are great lengths, make sense, and have titles....more
The Story: This cookbook was first published in 1960. You know, before cholesterol was counted and before we knew better than to serve each baked potaThe Story: This cookbook was first published in 1960. You know, before cholesterol was counted and before we knew better than to serve each baked potato with a stick of butter. This fiftieth anniversary edition is just as delightful as the first edition, with a Foreward by Jo Bracken, Peg's daughter. The book itself witty and funny, and perfect for the a)college student who is just learning to cook; b) newlywed who focused all of his/her time on lecture and not enough time on lab; c) the busy professional who still wants to make yummy food; d) the burnt-out mom who just needs something quick and easy AND yummy. The part I enjoyed the most about this book on a personal level was not its versatility, but the fact that a lot of the recipes that my mother passed down to me were in this book. They're named differently of course, but they're the same exact thing that I've been doing my whole life. The thing I enjoyed most as a reviewer of this book was that the language, though written in 1960 is just as snarky and valid today as I'm sure it was back then. The true test of a great book is whether or not it will stand the test of time. This one totally does, which is surely why Hachette chose to republish it fifty years later.
My Favorite Recipe: Sweep Steak. Not only does is just so happen to be the first one in the book, it just so happens to be the first recipe I ever successfully made on my own. So how could it not be my favorite? I love that there are 2 ingredients and that it's short simple and that she says, "bake it at 300° for three hours or 200° for nine hours, it doesn't really matter."
My Favorite Line: from the Household Hints chapter: "Or, building to ta truly frenetic climax, 'Is that precious wool skirt riddled with moth holes? Don't despair! Darn the holes, then get bright wool and embroider gay flowers over the darns. Very Tyrolean!' As I visualize that moth-eaten black-and-white-checked skirt of mine bedizened in this fashion I can see that things are rough in the Tyrol." I literally laughed out loud for like five minutes.
Cheque Please: Not only are most of these recipes easy, they're easy on the wallet. In order to get something delicious, it seems you do not have to buy roasted gorgonzola pine nuts and chopped hazelnuts at the store. You can use staples you have in your cupboards and keep down the amount of time and money you spend. Brilliant!
Who I'd Buy This Cookbook For: instead of listing every demographic in the world, see the list of people I don't think it'd be good for. It'll be easier. Who I'd Discourage From Buying: Vegetarians, hard-core health-nuts.
Final Verdict: This cookbook is genius. It's versatile, relevant, easy, cost-effective, yummy and entertaining. It should be in everyone's kitchen....more
Plot Sketch: I'll try to do this without giving anything away... ONLY THE GOOD SPY YOUNG is the fourth book in the Gallagher Girls series by Ally CartPlot Sketch: I'll try to do this without giving anything away... ONLY THE GOOD SPY YOUNG is the fourth book in the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter. This book starts out after Cammie's Christmas vacation with circumstances dictating that she needs a protection detail made of of MI-6 and CIA agents. The story follows the reason that she needs this protection and the way she dodges that at some points and embraces it at others. It features all of the characters from the last book and adds a few more, while connecting some of the unanswered questions we all had from the previous stories. But I swear if I tell you anything else I'll spoil it. Check out the trailer at the bottom of this post.
Verdict: I've never been able to walk away from a Gallagher Girls book before this one. This was the perfect example of a good book/bad book roller coaster. There were points when I asked, "Flip midair? When did Cammie become a teenaged version of Cameron Diaz in Charlie's Angels?" Then there were times where I literally turned the pages faster than I have ever turned pages before (p. 194) I kind of felt like the plot and the writing were all over the place and hit-and-miss throughout the text. I've also come to the conclusion that these books are best read one right after the other as there were several things that I had forgotten about the other books, silly little things like, "What does P&E stand for?" that bothered me throughout the book. I also felt that after page 200, Carter attempted her Gallagher-Girl-style wittiness and cleverness, but failed horribly. I used to get at least one chuckle a chapter and after page 200, I got about three giggles total. I could see where the rest were supposed to be, but they didn't work. This was less emotionally engaging than the other books have been and I was disappointed that Cammie's mom wasn't in it as much as I would have liked to have seen her around. Here's the nail in the coffin for me though: With 45 pages left, I was able to put the book down and not think about it. That has never happened with any other Gallagher Girl book. I hope Carter isn't spreading herself too thin. Because of events that unfolded in the last five pages, I will return to the fifth book and read it, but if I were you and I hadn't read #4 yet, I'd wait to pick it up until you read some #5 reviews....more
Plot Sketch: It's both the story of how a eunuch became immortal and lost the only thing that ever meant anything to him and the story about a girl whPlot Sketch: It's both the story of how a eunuch became immortal and lost the only thing that ever meant anything to him and the story about a girl who stows away to save a boy she loves. The journeys join together in the end, and Ai Ling's journey comes to a satisfying end. That's really all I can tell you without spoiling Silver Phoenix. It doesn't pick up where SP left off, but it's not too far from it, you gain the pertinent gappage through the story. If you haven't read Silver Phoenix yet, what are you waiting for???
Verdict: Silver Phoenix blew me away by making me love something I'd hate. Fury of the Phoenix blew me away because of its originality, its organization, and style. Not only were the details well-parsed and pertinent to the story, they were beautifully written. I normally hate on details pretty heavily, but Cindy did a great job in FURY of making them relevant. The resulting imagery is stunning. The other thing that really stands out about this book is that there is a dual storyline, but the two stories are expertly woven together in the end, making what a reader might mistake as exposition into vital information that is really just part of Ai Ling's path. For the first time in reading a story that had more than one plot line, I was not interested in one more than the other. Both lines were equally intriguing and engaging and I was never disappointed when they switched. Cindy has grown tremendously as a writer since her debut, and I can't tell you how much I recommend her writing. Put aside your preconceptions about Asian Fantasy, and get your hands on a copy of Silver Phoenix right now if you haven't read it. (The paperback comes out tomorrow) If you have read it, click on over to a bookseller and preorder FURY 'cause you're bound to enjoy it. This is a definite don't miss on the YA circuit.
Location: Mostly in Jiang, a kingdom with diplomatic relations to Xia, which is in a fantasy world
Main Character: Ai Ling
Favorite Character: That's hard. I think it was Chen Yong this time around. He really grew a lot as a character, and I was happy to see that maturation.
Would Change: I can't think of anything.
Favorite Line: "Thunder quaked like an angry god, rattling her teeth, and she shot straight up. The ship careened precariously and she flew into Chen Yong." pg. 118, ARC OR "She nodded, wiping her eyes. 'Whom did you see?' But he would not look at her and simply shook his head." pg 137, ARC
Good for Monster? Yes! I'm going to make him read it! People Who Will Like This: Katniss Everdeen, Velma from Scooby Doo, the bookish librarian who reads Manga on her break.
People Who Won't Like This: your Chinese grandparents, the girl down at lululemon who can't spell her first name correctly, and geocachers.
Plot Sketch: Sophie's a witch. She's got no leash on her power, and because of her inability to control (and her mother's lack of ability to teach herPlot Sketch: Sophie's a witch. She's got no leash on her power, and because of her inability to control (and her mother's lack of ability to teach her, being a plain ol' garden variety human being) the two have moved around from place to place like seventeen times in Sophia Mercer's fifteen years. See, Sophie's dad was a warlock, but he neglected to mention that to Sophie's mom, so she left his butt and had Soph on her own. When Sophie casts a love spell that goes crashingly wrong, she's sentenced by The Council (those are the folks that regulate and monitor Prodigium - fairies, shifters, and witches and sometimes vamps) to Hecate Hall. It's like juvie for supernaturals. Sophie gets to room with the only vamp allowed as a student in what they affectiontely refer to as Hex Hall, and is constantly freaked out and affected by a string of murders and attempted murders amongst her fellow witches, most of which her vamp-roomie Jenna is accused of. Oh, and there'a a hot warlock guy and a hot groundskeeper guy too.
Verdict: For the first third of the book, I kept going, "Uh, Harry Potter much?" Teenager who doesn't know who she is or what to do with her powers? Check. School for people to learn about their powers/where their powers come from? Check. Slightly devilish teacher who main character definitely gets off on the wrong foot with? Check. School protected by charms and spells? Check. Headmaster/principal who is wise and powerful? Check. Groundskeeper who is also helpful and trustworthy? Check. Main character who is super-powerful and more powerful than all of his/her classmates? Check. There was actually a point where I almost quit reading because I was almost disgusted with the Harry-Potter-isms. THEN. Hawkins admits the Harry-Potter-isms by having Sophie call Cal (the groundskeeper) Hagrid. And after that happened, I was like, "Oh! Good! She admits it." And the book seemed to only get better from there. Then, about 1/2 way through, the Harry-Potter-isms vanish, and Hex Hall comes into its own, and becomes a very interesting story (with the help of an interesting love triangle - except it's not 2 guys, dude) and even twists to a place I didn't see it going. It's a quick read and the writing is good. Would I say read it? Yeah. Would I say make it go to the top of your pile? Nah. It's worth a read, but I wouldn't drop everything to read it right away.
Location: Hecate Hall, on an island off of Georgia, United States (at least methinks the isle belongs to the US)
Main Character: Sophia Mercer, or Sophie for short
Favorite Character: Archer Cross. *swoon* Even after the ending. I'm really intrigued by him. Those who have read it will know what I mean.
Would Change: I think the Verdict says Harry-Potter-isms like four times. Make it less Harry-Potter. It's still going to be a great story without all of the similarities. It just seemed like Hawkins was trying to follow a success-formula... but hopefully it wasn't conscious.
Favorite Line: My absolute favorite part of the book is near the beginning when Hawkins tells us about how the Prodigium came about. It is so creative and so interesting and honestly what kept me reading through the parts I didn't particularly care for. I even read this part to my mom and my grandma because I was so impressed with it's originality. "'After the Great War between God and Lucifer, those angels who refused to take sides were cast out of heaven. One group...chose to hide itself away under hills and deep in forests. They became faeries. Another group chose to live among animals and became shapeshifters. And the last chose to intermingle with humans and became witches.'" page 25, hardcover
Good for Monster? Nope. He'd not like this one. Not fantasy enough for him.
People Who Will Like This: Hermione, Spike from Buffy, the smart girl in the back of the class you don't know is smart, my mom
People Who Won't Like This: werewolves, Hagrid, vampire fundamentalists, scared-of-the-dark types...more
Plot Sketch: Galen was born to his mother and father, a laundress and soldier in the Westfalian army during the war with Analousia. Knowing nothing elPlot Sketch: Galen was born to his mother and father, a laundress and soldier in the Westfalian army during the war with Analousia. Knowing nothing else, he himself took up a musket at fifteen. He lost both of his parents during the war. So when the war ended, he headed to Bruch to look for his mother's sister, Tante Leisel. On his way, he encountered an old woman by the side of the road. He sat with her and even gave her his scarf and some food to help him out. In return, she gave him a cloak of invisibility and a couple of skeins of wool. When he arrived in Bruch, he found his aunt and uncle, Leisel and Reiner Orm, and they gave him a place to live and a job with his uncle as a caretaker in the King's Folly, as the commoners often referred to the garden that the king kept for his deceased queen. There, Galen met one of the 12 princesses, Princess Rose. He also learned of a mystery in the palace... the twelve princesses' dancing shoes were worn out every three days, but no one knew why. They were locked in their rooms, but still left somehow to dance all night long, or so it was presumed by the amount of wear on the shoes. When the princesses became ill, it became a life-threatening situation and no one could figure out why or where these princesses were dancing. So, the king dispatched for princes from all over Ionia to give them a chance to figure out where the princesses were going. Galen the under-gardener finally gets a chance, and the rest you'll have to read to find out...
Verdict: I Heart It! Even though this is a fairly simple adaptation of the classic fairy tale of the 12 princesses, it is very well written and has a very fluid story. I enjoyed that the princesses were all named after flowers in their mothers' gardens and that the story was told from Galen's perspective. I liked that the imagery was detailed enough to give me a picture, but vague enough that I could envoke my imagination still. Great read, especially for those of us who like princesses and fairy tales. Definitely recommend....more
Plot Sketch: Lyn is the daughter of seven gladiators. What the heck does that mean? Her mother, Allison, married this guy Frank. He was part of the GlPlot Sketch: Lyn is the daughter of seven gladiators. What the heck does that mean? Her mother, Allison, married this guy Frank. He was part of the Gladiator Sports Association (GSA) when it first started out, when it was still underground. They found his body by the cemetery. A couple of weeks later, a couple of representatives from the primitive GSA came to give Allison some money and offer to help her get through the loss. Mouse, Lyn's second father, was one of them. Then GSA got legalized, and it blew up. Allison was a model Glad Wife who knew all of the rules and bylaws that the family had to live by. Including the one that says that a Glad Wife can only marry seven times, and then she's done. Finito. So basically, the story starts with Lyn's seventh father, Tommy, going up against a glad named Uber, and Lyn offering Tommy her dowry bracelet as a token during the fight. Oh and did I mention that dowry bracelets can only be touched by your father? If some other male touches yours, you have to marry him. So, Tommy loses Lyn's in the fight, and Lyn has to find a way to get out of marrying Uber. That's what the book revolves around.
Verdict: No Love. I wanted to like this book, I really really wanted to like this book. If you'll recall, I asked Santa for this book in my Dear Santa letter! This was one of those books that I finished at 1 in the morning and then got so fired up and pissed off about that I had to get out of bed and tell Monster (who was still up playing Star Ocean) all about the plot and how stupid and ridiculous the whole thing was. I haven't vented about a book this vehemently in a long, long time. For starters, Lyn shaved her head, and the girl on the cover who is obviously supposed to be Lyn had long flowing hair. WTF. Secondly, the book is titled GIRL IN THE ARENA. Dude, Lyn is in the Arena for like 20 pages. I thought I was going to read a book about this kick-@ss girl who tore up the women's gladiatorial circuit or something. Wrong. Additionally, I didn't follow most of the logic in the book. I can't go into much detail without spoiling it for you, so I won't, but let me just say this: D-U-M-B. I feel like I wasted my time. And I feel even worse about it because I was so excited for it.